Randy Weeks

Published on April 1st, 2020 | by Randy Weeks

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The View From The Balcony: “What a Wonderful World―Really!”

I drove around Oxford a bit last weekend. The weather was amazing and I have a convertible again. It was a great ride. While most people were not out and about, I still saw a few. They were working in their yards, sitting outside restaurants to deliver orders, and eating frozen yogurt on the Square as a family. I’ve talked to friends and read their Facebook posts exalting the time they’ve had with loved ones, the rediscovery of simplicity, and the renewed appreciation for life and health. Laid over a template of a deadly disease, it makes no sense―at first.

A closer look reveals an understanding of what is most important in this world. Disasters and tragedies that knock us to our knees offer us a great opportunity. When most of the things that usually occupy our time and demand our attention are put aside with no end in sight, we have to figure out what we’re going to do and, more importantly, who and how we are going to be. 

None of us knows where COVID-19 will take us. Most projections aren’t encouraging. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless, and it doesn’t mean that all our social isolation is a prison. The Coronavirus is offering us something other than fear and death. It’s offering us a chance to put our best foot forward. It’s offering us a chance to look outside ourselves to the needs of others. It’s offering us a chance to realign our priorities, to love, to create, and to be grateful for our many, many blessings. 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the most powerful force in the universe is love. This pandemic is a call to the most meaningful parts of life―love and kindness and kinship. It is a call away from judgment and selfishness, to acceptance and harmony. It is a call to better relationships with ourselves, our families, our pets, our friends, our Higher Power, our planet, and our entire cosmos. 

Even our isolation and social distancing are acts of love and caring, as we do what we can to protect ourselves and others. Practicing patience at grocery stores, the post office, and drug stores are acts of love and kindness. Encouraging words, prayers, and speaking out for what’s good for all show care and concern.

We are being challenged, but each and every one of us has the power to meet that challenge. That doesn’t mean that everything’s going to be alright. It isn’t. People are dying and will continue to do so, but our choice is in how we meet this challenge. Let us meet it with love that is both tender and fierce. 

As I drove around town I couldn’t help but think of Louis Armstrong’s recording of the George Douglas and Bob Thiele song, “Wonderful World.” In the film Good Morning, Viet Nam, starring Robin Williams, Armstrong’s recording of “Wonderful World” was played over a montage of heinous acts of war―dumping agent orange on people, dropping bombs, and the like. The cognitive dissonance abounds.

As that song played in my head today, I couldn’t help but have some cognitive dissonance myself, because of the disease we are fighting and the beauty of what I was witnessing. With apologies to Douglas and Thiele, I offer these additional lyrics to their classic, “Wonderful World”:

I see families in their yards,
working so hard,
down on their knees
planting flowers and trees,
and I think to myself,
What a wonderful world!

I see people lending hands,
across this land.
People unite
to get through the night,
and I think to myself,
What a wonderful world!

No one knows what tomorrow holds,
so, we live for today.
But as long as there’s love
in our hearts and our hands,
we’ll climb that hill.
I know we will.

I see mothers and dads,
lasses and lads,
loving each other
more than they ever have,
and I think to myself,
What a wonderful world!

And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world!

. . . and that’s the view from The Balcony.

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